Anson Williams
Williams as Potsie Weber in 1974
Born
Anson William Heimlich

(1949-09-25) September 25, 1949 (age 74)
EducationBurbank High School
Occupations
  • Actor
  • director
  • singer
Years active1971–present
Known for
Spouses
  • Lorrie Mahaffey
    (m. 1978; div. 1986)
  • Jackie Gerken
    (m. 1988; div. 2019)
Sharon MaHarry
(m. 2023)

Anson Williams (born Anson William Heimlich;[1] September 25, 1949) is an American actor, singer, and director, best known for his role as gullible, well-intentioned singer Warren "Potsie" Weber on the television series Happy Days (1974–1984), a role for which he was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

Williams has since become a prominent television director, working on programs such as Melrose Place (1992–1999), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996–2003), Lizzie McGuire (2001–2004), and The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2008–2013).

Early life

Williams was born[2] to a Jewish family.[3] His father, Haskell Heimlich, legally changed the spelling of the family name to "Heimlick", unlike Williams's father's cousin,[4] Dr. Henry Heimlich, namesake of the Heimlich maneuver for treating choking victims.[2] Williams attended Burbank High School, where he was captain of the track team and acted in multiple school productions.[citation needed]

Career

In 1971 Williams appeared in the Sherman Brothers' original musical, Victory Canteen, at the Ivar Theater in Los Angeles.[citation needed] That year he also appeared with John Amos in a commercial for McDonald's.

In 1972, Williams portrayed Potsie Weber in a segment of the comedy-anthology series Love, American Style titled "Love and the Happy Days", which also introduced Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), Richie's mother Marion (Marion Ross), and other characters who were spun off into the television series Happy Days. (Only Williams, Howard, and Ross reprised their roles).[5][6] The new series' first season, during which Williams received second billing after Howard, was centered mainly on Richie and Potsie. Eventually, as breakout character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) and Richie's mother, father, and sister became more popular, Potsie was joined by Ralph Malph (Don Most, who was merely a side character in season one), and Potsie and Ralph became inseparable.

Unlike Howard and Most, Williams was one of the few to remain through the entire run of the series, although his appearances became less frequent in later seasons. In some episodes, Richie, Potsie, and Ralph formed a band combo that performed at Arnold's Drive-In and other places. As Potsie, Williams actually sang lead vocals for the group. Williams's first wife, Lorrie Mahaffey, portrayed Potsie's girlfriend, Jennifer, in later seasons.

In 1977, during his run on "Happy Days" Williams recorded and released a single, "Deeply" which peaked at #93 on the Hot 100.[7]

After Happy Days, Williams began a much more prolific career as a television director, starting with short programs for adolescent-age children, including afterschool specials "No Greater Gift" (1985) and "The Drug Knot" (1986), and TV-movie Lone Star Kid (1986).[8] He has gone on to direct many episodes for a variety of television series, including The Pretender, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, seaQuest 2032, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Charmed.[9] He also directed several episodes of the TV series 7th Heaven.

Despite his success as a director and producer, Williams has occasionally returned to his work on Happy Days in retrospective ways. He played himself in a 1996 Happy Days-themed Boy Meets World episode (which also featured former castmates Tom Bosley and Pat Morita).[10] While directing a 2003 episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch titled "Sabrina in Wonderland", he appeared as Potsie in a fantasy sequence.[citation needed] He also joined his fellow Happy Days cast members for two reunion specials: The Happy Days Reunion Special (1992) and Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion (2005).

Williams initially objected to footage of Potsie appearing in Weezer's 1994 music video Buddy Holly, which was set in Arnold's Drive-In from Happy Days, but he later relented.[11]

Williams is also a businessman. In 1987, he and fellow Happy Days cast member Al Molinaro opened a chain of diners called Big Al's; however the business lasted only a short time.[12] He founded Starmaker Products, a cosmetics company, and was a featured speaker at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's National Trademark Expo in April 2008, where he discussed the importance of registered trademarks for small businesses and signed autographs for Happy Days fans. Williams is the author of Singing to a Bulldog: From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There.[13]

As of July 2023, Williams and his wife, memoirist Sharon MaHarry, who had married in May, were collaborating on a one woman stage play based on her book, Crazy Mama: A Memoir of Love and Madness, which depicts a character growing up with a mother who has struggled with mental illness, which won the 2014 Southwest Writers Competition and Santa Barbara Writers Conference Fiction Award.[14]

Politics

On July 7, 2022, Williams announced that he would be running for mayor of Ojai, California.[15] He lost to incumbent mayor Betsey Stix by 42 votes, with Williams receiving 1,781 votes to Stix’s 1,823.[16]

Legal issues

On April 19, 2011, Williams and four of his Happy Days co-stars, Erin Moran, Don Most, Marion Ross, and the estate of Tom Bosley, who died in 2010, filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS, which owns the show, claiming they had not been paid for merchandising revenues owed under their contracts. The cast members claimed they had not received revenues from show-related items, including comic books, T-shirts, scrapbooks, trading cards, games, lunch boxes, dolls, toy cars, magnets, greeting cards, and DVDs, where their images appeared on the box covers. Under their contracts, they were supposed to be paid 5% from the net proceeds of merchandising if their sole images were used, and half that amount if they were in a group. CBS said it owed the actors $8,500 and $9,000 each, most of it from slot machine revenues, but the group said they were owed millions. The lawsuit was initiated after Ross was informed by a friend playing slots at a casino of a Happy Days machine on which players win the jackpot when five Marion Rosses are rolled.[17]

In October 2011, a judge rejected the group's fraud claim.[18] On June 5, 2012, a judge denied a motion filed by CBS to have the case thrown out, which meant it would go to trial on July 17 if the parties did not reach a settlement by then.[19] In July 2012, the actors settled their lawsuit with CBS. Each received a payment of $65,000 and a promise by CBS to continue honoring the terms of their contracts. Williams said, "I'm very satisfied with the settlement. And that's all I can say."[20][21]

Personal life

Williams had been married to Jackie Gerkin. He filed for divorce in 2019, but later filed a motion to have that previous filing dismissed in October of that year. He then filed again in 2020.[14]

Around 2010, Williams met memoirist and real estate broker Sharon MaHarry, when she sold him his house in Ojai, California. Williams also helped her regain the ability to walk as she recovered from a serious back injury, and as she mourned the loss of her husband of 35 years to cancer. They subsequently began a relationship, which Williams characterized by saying, "the first few months of the relationship was healing." MaHarry commented that the relationship "first healed a body then a heart." They eventually moved into a home in Ojai, California. On May 6, 2023, the couple married in their backyard in what they called a "very untraditional" ceremony. Williams' Happy Days co-star Donny Most served as best man. Commenting on getting married at age 73, Williams said, "At this age, to be able to find that kind of full connection for the first time, and what that means — it's a miracle. I would trade my stardom, notoriety, all that bologna for Sharon in a minute. There's no age limit on being loved. There's no age limit on living life fully."[14][22]

Filmography

Actor

Year Title Role Notes
1971 Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law Steve Baggot Episode: "Eulogy for a Wide Receiver"
1972 Love, American Style Potsie Weber Episode: "Love and the Happy Days" (pilot for Happy Days)
1972 The Paul Lynde Show Jimmy Episode: "Whiz Kid Sizzles as Quiz Fizzles"
1973 Bridget Loves Bernie Young Man Episode: "Life Begins at 65"
1973 Marcus Welby, M.D. Episode: "The Panic Path"
1973 Lisa, Bright and Dark Brian Morris TV movie
1974–1984 Happy Days Potsie Weber Main cast (219 episodes)
1976 Laverne & Shirley Potsie Weber Episode: "Excuse Me, May I Cut In?"
1977 The Love Boat Sean McGlynn Episode: "The Old Man and the Runaway/The Painters/A Fine Romance"
1978 The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour Himself (Guest Star) Episode #1.2
1978 Greatest Heroes of the Bible Nabar Episode: "The Ten Commandments"
1983 Fantasy Island Dan O'Dwyer Episode: "The Songwriter/Queen of the Soaps"
1984 I Married a Centerfold Nick Bellows TV movie
1992 The Happy Days Reunion Special Himself TV special
1995 Fudge Waiter Episode: "No Exit"
1996 Boy Meets World Himself Episode: "I Was a Teenage Spy"
2000 Baywatch Councilman McKenna Episodes: "Soul Survivor", "Dream Girl"
2002 Son of the Beach Warden Jack Beatty Episode: "Jailhouse Notch: Part 2"
2003 Sabrina the Teenage Witch Potsie Weber Episode: "Sabrina in Wonderland"
2005 Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion Himself TV special
2016 The Odd Couple Clayton Episode: "Taffy Days"

Director

Year Title Notes
1985 ABC Afterschool Special Episode: "No Greater Gift"
1986 WonderWorks Episode: "Lone Star Kid"
1986 CBS Schoolbreak Special Episode: "The Drug Knot"
1987 L.A. Law Episode: "Brackman Vasektimized"
1987–1988 Hooperman Episodes: "Baby Talk", "Blaste from the Past", "In Search of Bijoux"
1988 Just the Ten of Us Episode: "The Merry Mix-Up"
1989 Your Mother Wears Combat Boots TV movie
1989 Dream Date TV movie
1989 Little White Lies TV movie
1990 Glory Days Episodes: "Blastin' Away the Blues", "Tammy Tell Me True"
1990 A Quiet Little Neighborhood, a Perfect Little Murder TV movie
1991 All-American Murder Direct-to-video
1993–1994 Diagnosis: Murder 4 episodes
1994 Heaven Help Us Episode: "The Wall"
1994–1995 Robin's Hoods Episodes: "To Heir is Human", "Deja Vu"
1995 Live Shot 4 episodes
1995 Fudge 7 episodes
1995–1996 seaQuest 2032 7 episodes
1996 The Cape Episodes: "The Need to Know", "Reggie's Wild Ride"
1996 Xena: Warrior Princess Episode: "Remember Nothing"
1996 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Episodes: "King for a Day", "Mummy Dearest"
1996–1999 Melrose Place 9 episodes
1996–2000 Beverly Hills, 90210 9 episodes
1997 The Pretender Episode: "The Better Part of Valor"
1997 Clueless Episode: "Sharing Cher"
1997–1998 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Episodes: "Statistical Probabilities", "It's Only a Paper Moon"
1997–1999 Star Trek: Voyager 4 episodes
1998 Love Boat: The Next Wave Episodes: "How Long Has Thing Been Going On?", "Reunion"
1998–1999 7th Heaven Episodes: "Cutters", "Come Drive with Me"
1999 Cousin Skeeter Episodes: "The Not-So-Great Outdoors", "The Volcano"
1999 The Net Episode: "Chem Club"
1999–2000 Profiler Episodes: "Infidelity", "Mea Culpa"
1999–2003 Sabrina the Teenage Witch 10 episodes
2000–2001 Baywatch 6 episodes
2000–2001 Charmed Episodes: "Awakened", "All Halliwell's Eve", "The Demon Who Came in from the Cold"
2001 Titans Episode: "She Stoops to Conquer"
2001–2002 The Nightmare Room Episodes: "Scareful What You Wish For", "My Name is Evil"
2001–2003 Lizzie McGuire 7 episodes
2002 Body & Soul Episode: "Running Home"
2006 Sons & Daughters Episode: "Surprise Party"
2008–2013 The Secret Life of the American Teenager 31 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1983 Golden Globe Award Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries or Television Film Warren "Potsie" Weber in Happy Days Nominated

References

  1. ^ "Free Family Tree, Genealogy, Family History, and DNA Testing". www.myheritage.com. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Rose, David (2010). "Mentally I'm a Size Eight". Sexually, I'm More of a Switzerland: More Personal Ads from the London Review of Books. Simon and Schuster. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4391-3149-7. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  3. ^ Bloom, Nate (September 16, 2008). "Jewish Stars". Cleveland Jewish News.
  4. ^ "Classic Retrovision Milestones". Facebook. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  5. ^ "Love, American Style: Love and the Happy Days/Love and the Newscasters". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Happy Days". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 913.
  8. ^ Saad, Nardine (July 6, 2022). "Potsie for mayor? 'Happy Days' alum Anson Williams is running for office in Ojai". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  9. ^ "Anson Williams". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  10. ^ "Boy Meets World: I Was a Teenage Spy". IMDb. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  11. ^ Domball, Ryan (November 2008). "Buddy Holly: How Four LA Rockers Created the Definitive Hipster-Doofus Battle Cry". Blender.
  12. ^ Elber, Lynn (October 31, 2018). "Al Molinaro, 'Happy Days' diner owner, dies". MSNBC. Associated Press. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  13. ^ "USPTO Celebrates Trademarks". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Archived from the original on September 21, 2012. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  14. ^ a b c Huamani, Kaitlyn; Strohm, Emily (July 26, 2023). "'Happy Days' Star Anson Williams Is Married! 'It's Never Too Late to Get It Right'". People. Archived from the original on November 15, 2023. Retrieved November 15, 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "'Happy Days' star Anson Williams announces bid for mayor of Ojai, California". Fox News. July 7, 2022.
  16. ^ Kato, Brooke; Swartz, Tracy (December 7, 2022). "'Happy Days' star Anson Williams loses Ojai mayoral bid in a squeaker". New York Post. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  17. ^ Zamost, Scott (April 20, 2011). "'Happy Days' actors claim fraud, money owed for merchandising". CNN Money. Archived from the original on December 8, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  18. ^ Gardner, Eriq (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' Actors Win Key Ruling in CBS Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter.
  19. ^ Scott, Zamost (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' cast members' lawsuit heading for trial". CNN.
  20. ^ Daley, Sean (August 6, 2012). "Chachi done with broke Joanie". New York Post.
  21. ^ Zamost, Scott (July 7, 2012). "'Happy Days' actors settle lawsuit with CBS". CNN.
  22. ^ Wang, Jessica (July 20, 2023). "Happy Days star Anson Williams marries at 73, with castmate Donny Most as his best man". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on November 15, 2023. Retrieved November 15, 2023.